ZENOBIA FROST reviews Brisbane Fringe Festival event UNREQUIRED READING.
An evening of spoken word and video art, Unrequired Reading is the only Brisbane Fringe Festival show I’ve made it to thus far — but I’m glad I did. It’s a cool, clear night, and the walk from the city to the Highgate Hill venue is considerably less hilly and heinous than I expect.
Turnstyle Community Hub is the shared underhouse space of two neighbouring homes on Laura Street. This not-for-profit collective, I learn, runs workshops, shows and activism-related events. The space itself is homely and inviting — we find comfy couches, beanbags, shelves crammed with books, and a bar serving free, homemade soup (and reasonably-priced booze). There’s also a resident cat who, very generously, lets me cart him around in my arms for a while.
Poets Eleanor Jackson and Doubting Thomas are incarnated here as MC Lady Lazarus Vs. DJ Thought Fox. They debuted this collaborative project, an “audio-visual remix of the poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath,” at the recent Queensland Poetry Festival. It’s a rich, engaging, layered work. Plath’s and Hughes’ voices weave through Jackson’s sensual and Thomas’ eloquent poetics. Numerous lines stick out, and I jot many of them down (mostly illegible, in the dark): “Kiss me, and you’ll know how important I am.”
Next on the bill, Doubting Thomas screens two short poetry films that ran in the QPF Filmmakers’ Challenge. One features a poem by Jackson, the other by Liv In(the)finite. Thomas’ visuals, shot on his travels, are meditative. At the climax of the second video/poem, the swelling sounds of Godspeed You! Black Emperor filter through the window from next door. It’s a curiously sublime moment.
After the break, In(the)finite and Maia Sinclair-Ferguson screen a documentary. Muckaty Voices exposes the plight of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory’s Muckaty Station, where the government intends to dump nuclear waste without the consent of the land’s traditional owners. Sinclair-Ferguson also shares us with her artavism project, The Cardshow, and gifts us cards from this fund-raising collection. I choose one on which the five spades are transformed into moths and beetles. (It is now pinned up in my office as a memento.)
The last act for the evening is In(the)finite’s spoken word piece, Unwoven, featuring video and animation by Sinclair-Ferguson. Liv In(the)finite’s performance is strong; however, the poem itself is overlong, with meandering subject matter. In this regard, the night was somewhat upended; had this piece come earlier in the evening to fresher ears, this reviewer might have been more open to its abstractions.
The vibe of the evening is lovely, the company is good, and the soup is delicious. I can’t wait to return for more evenings at Turnstyle (with the cat, in particular). Heading out into the night, somewhere near midnight, Brisbane seems full of energy.
UNREQUIRED READING ran at Turnstyle Community Hub from 13 to 14 Sep. http://brisbanefringefestival.com
ZENOBIA FROST (@zenfrost) has a PhD in burning the candle at both ends. She is a founding editor with OffStreet Press and is fond of strange myths, incisive verse, theatre, graveyards, tea, and editing.